In my last higher-education blog, I wrote about planning for how and when to lockdown a campus and the first step of creating a task force to plan for potential problems such as a natural disasters, chemical spills, and a gunman on campus.
Once the task force is in place and working, it’s time to talk with an experienced security systems integrator about helping with a campus risk assessment. This is a chance to look at the strengths and weaknesses of your system in academic buildings, dormitories, parking lots, power plants, and other facilities that impact day-to-day campus functions. The integrator may recommend changes such as adding or moving cameras, increasing lighting, or modifying landscaping.
Ask the members of the task force to share any incidents or concerns that they may have in their areas of responsibility. And take a look at crime statistics on campus and in the surrounding community to get a better idea of what challenges you may face.
I always walk a campus and take the time to talk to faculty, students and third-party, on-campus businesses. Their input can be very enlightening and help in assessing potential risks.
When it comes time to write a plan, don’t forget one of your greatest resources–the hundreds or thousands of employees on campus. They can add to the efforts of campus police and other first responders. For example, they can be used to control traffic, lead evacuations, lock doors, and many other tasks. Each person’s role must be clearly defined and adequate training must be provided. That will require conducting emergency drills. Note what worked and what didn’t and make adjustments to your plan.
Also, any effective lockdown will require good communication tools, such as a web-based mass notification system that can reach thousands of people in a matter of seconds via their mobile phone or landline, eMail, digital pager, fax machine, and wireless PDA device. Up-to-the-second instructions and information are crucial in an emergency.
Locking down a campus is serious business and should be done only in consultation with the highest level of the administration, campus police, and other local first responders. But if the need should arise, the planning and practice will pay off with a smoother and safer operation.
Patrick Fiel is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System. He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.
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